When the owners and players’ association agreed on a 60-game season, there were no expanded players. Here, on the first day of the season, the association and MLB have agreed to a whole new playoff format.
Instead of 10 teams, there will now be 16. Just for this season, over half of MLB’s 30 teams will be playing in October.
Instead of the usual maximum of 43 games between 10 teams, there will now be a maximum of 65(!) playoff games. The first round will be based off of a seeding system. The higher seed will host the lower seed at their home ballpark for a best of 3-game series.
The players are getting a reported $50 million to facilitate this deal.
While this move essentially guarantees teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers a spot in the playoffs, it also poses a major threat to their World Series chances. In a best-of-three series, the Yankees could easily be defeated by the likes of a team like the Oakland Athletics, who would most likely have been in the Wild Card game before this change occurred.
For the Phillies, it almost guarantees a playoff birth. They already had the pieces for a possible division push and are playing in arguably the deepest division in Major League Baseball this year. It will be a challenge for the team to win the division, and odds are it will be a close race. It is very likely that the winning team in the division could have a 35-25 record. Even if the Phillies were second place with a 34-26 record, that could potentially not be enough to make the postseason.
Now, all they have to do is finish second to make playoff. They could even finish third and still be in.
Things could really get weird now with this format. A team like the White Sox, Blue Jays, or Diamondbacks could shock the world, but so could the Phillies.
In the old format, the Phillies, as a wild card, would have almost been guaranteed an NLDS matchup with the Dodgers. Now, there are more question marks.
There are still some uncertainties.
Outside of the first round, it hasn’t been confirmed how the rest of the playoffs will be resolved, although it will most likely be a 5-game series and 2 7-game series.
This is the first change to the playoff format since 2012 when the second wild card and the wildcard game were instituted. The question is, can the Phillies take advantage?
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports